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Günther Hasinger, Director
Institute for Astronomy

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From the Director

One of my duties as director is to raise funds needed to conduct the Institute’s activities. Generally, IfA scientists apply to NASA or the National Science Foundation (NSF) for research funds for their own research. But when a project involves a large amount of funds and will have a major impact on the Institute as a whole, I get involved on behalf of my colleagues.

A recent success in this regard was obtaining a $1.3 million grant from NSF so that Pan-STARRS will be able to complete the original PS1 mission and develop a final archive of all its data to be housed at the Space Telescope Science Institute, the same organization that runs the Hubble Space Telescope and archives HST data. I am very grateful for the help of the Pan-STARRS team in this respect.

The big fundraising issue on our plate right now is the $4 million needed to complete the construction of the second Pan-STARRS telescope on Haleakalā. Originally, we had hoped to continue to receive federal funding through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Air Force, since one of the primary missions of Pan-STARRS is to find asteroids that pose a danger to Earth. But as you know, federal spending has tightened up considerably, and so we were left with a financial deficit of several million dollars. With the help of the U.S. Air Force and the University of Hawai‘i, this budget shortfall could be alleviated considerably. The most recent positive news is the Board of Regents’ approval for the allocation of $2 million in revenue bonds for the renovation of the enclosure that will house the second telescope, PS2. Now we very much hope that NASA will grant our request for funds to complete the instrumentation and commissioning of PS2.

Why, you may ask, does Pan-STARRS need another telescope? PS1 is the prototype telescope that has proved that the Pan-STARRS concept is technically feasible, cost effective, and scientifically powerful. The second telescope, PS2, will work in sync with PS1 to observe even fainter objects in a larger portion of the sky.  Together, they will extend the census of “killer asteroids” to objects as yet unobservable. Adding PS2 to PS1 will also ensure that Pan-STARRS and the IfA will maintain world leadership in wide-field imaging for at least the next decade. And if we can acquire enough money to finish the construction of PS2 in 2013, Euclid, a new billion-dollar mission of the European Space Agency, will provide an avenue for funding the operations of both telescopes in return for Pan-STARRS providing critical support for the mission.

We are hopeful that we can obtain funding to finish PS2 in a timely manner, and I am pursuing every lead to do so.

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